Amherst Magazine

Richard C. Gillett '50

Deceased May 15, 2009

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In Memory

Richard “Dick” Gillett died suddenly on May 15, 2009, at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife of sixty years, five children, eleven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Except for his family, there was little that gave him greater pleasure than his memories of his days at Amherst. No member of Kappa Theta in the late ’40s can have forgotten the metallic silver gray convertible Studebaker with red leather seats that he bought with money saved up from his wartime service in the navy. Top down, regardless of the weather, he shared with his friends the joy of being young and male and vigorously healthy as they charged around campus. To add to the fun, he installed a carriage bell, so that he could announce his arrival to the rest of the world.

Also among his happy memories from his Amherst days was the “I Bet You Can’t” pilsner, surely among the world’s largest. When it was not present at one party, a friend offered to go to his room to get it for him—and broke it coming down the stairs. Great was the mourning that marked its passing, especially among those who were awaiting a chance to prove that they could. Its successor now sits high up on top of a cabinet, to be brought down with reverence and awe at appropriate moments for the delectation of those descendants who might be having trouble convincing themselves that granddad really was young, once upon a time.

He scrutinized his prospective children-in law most carefully as they appeared on the scene, especially the candidates for son-in-law. That there have never been any divorces among his children brought him considerable satisfaction, and his children-in-law brought him great joy. His eleven grandchildren were a source of amazement as well as pride, but by the time the great-grands came along, his mind was slowly betraying him. “Who is the little boy running around,” he asked at a recent family gathering. The little boy was the fourth of his five great-grandchildren.

Ray Vigneault ’50


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